1 Nov 2011

New Zealand launches Tonga aid spend probe

4:11 pm on 1 November 2011

The New Zealand government is launching its own investigation after claims that aid money for Tonga has gone missing.

The Tongan auditor general has released a report to the New Zealand High Commission that says some of the aid for a project to help with the country's transition to democracy has not been accounted for.

The foreign minister, Murray McCully, says New Zealand and Australia helped fund the programme which started in 2008 and was administered by the Tongan Prime Minister's office.

"It appears that the paperwork accounting for the funds is not sufficient and it's important to find out whether that's simply poor book-keeping which can be fixed up or whether there's something further we need to enquire into in which case there are relevant authorities to do that."

He says the New Zealand government is appointing an independent auditor today as it is entitled to do under its aid agreement.